This is what goes through my mind when I think of 2012.
I traveled, met people, published a book, taught, learnt, and watched Jon and Miren grow so quickly. He turned 6, she turned 3. They came along on many of my trips and I could see their minds explode with curiosity and imagination.
After so much coming and going, I was looking forward to spending time with family in December. I was so happy to have my parents home for Christmas and have my mom cook fish soup for me – I ate it three days in a row, that’s how much I love that dish.
While I was looking through all these images, I was filled with gratitude for those who have been a part of my life this year, lending a hand and guiding me.
We spent winter mostly at home as I continued with the copyediting of my manuscript. It was an unusually warm season, even for Florida standards, so we took full advantage and went to the beach as much as we could. We even went fishing on the beach several times. Remember the bluefish?
One of my fondest memories is when we visited the Uncle Matt’s citrus grove in Clermont and we picked the sweetest oranges right from the tree. Must plan a visit soon again.
At the end of March, we traveled back to the Basque Country looking for blossoms and the baby sheep. I missed home dearly and we arrived at a perfect time when the landscape began turning green again and wildflowers dressed the fields.
In April, I taught a food styling and photography workshop in Boulder as part of The Makerie retreat. Boulder was also blooming and sunny and all the beautiful things I remembered about the Colorado Spring. I felt very inspired, so much so, that I will be returning this upcoming April.
Shortly after, Jon, Miren and I traveled to Vermont to see Nadia who kindly opened her home to us so we could shoot the trailer for my book with Ryan Marshall. It was frigid cold, but somehow felt so right for what we had envisioned. I remember on our last morning when we shot the picnic scene… It was about 25 degrees outside, the apple blossoms frozen, but the light beaming. We ran across the field in the cold and it was just so beautiful. I have spoken about the trailer and Ryan many times on the blog, but in case you have not seen it, here it is. One of the most beautiful things I have been part of this year. Thank you to Nadia and Ryan once again for making this happen.
Another proud moment for me this year was when this blog was nominated for a James Beard Award. How could I describe the feeling? Surreal sums it all. I got dressed up, I put on some high heels, which I rarely wear, and joined some of the most talented people in food for an evening of celebration. I did not win, but many friends did and was just honored to be in such company.
Summer was full of travel and excitement.
We started with a trip to Seattle as I was speaking at BlogHer Food.
Then I traveled to Montreal where I taught a food styling and photography workshop at SAT Labo. I finally met Mayssam in person after years of communicating via email and spent some lovely days in her company visiting the best food spots in the city. I am still dreaming about our dinner at 400 des coups and Joe Beef with a great group of friends. I am so happy I will be visiting Montreal once again in a few weeks. Thank you Mayssam for all your help this year.
Right after Montreal, Jon, Miren and I traveled to New York City for a photo shoot for Whole Living magazine. Nadia joined us once again and we strolled the city during one of the hottest weekends of the year. The lobby at the Ace hotel became our haven and I will treasure those photo booth moments forever. Did you see the beautiful story that Marcus Nilsson photographed with my recipes?
In July, when we couldn’t take the Florida heat any longer, we asked Nadia if we could come retreat to the hill for a few days. I longed for a cooler summer, with berry picking trips and fresh air. Jon and Miren love visiting Nadia and the hill and once again felt right at home. Romina joined us as well. We laughed, relaxed and cooked with summer rain and breeze as a backdrop. Just what we needed. Thank you Nadia once again for your hospitality and Romina for the delicious macarons (Jon still talks about your madeleines).
Then came a food styling and photography retreat in Whistler. Summer in the PNW is brilliant. We visited a plentiful farm, had a picnic on top of Whistler mountain, styled and photographed summer foods on a house by the lake and ate delicious local food every night. Thank you Angela and Nadia for all your hard work. The full story here.
As you see, there were many workshops this year, 5 of them to be exact.
We returned to Beynac, France. 8 amazing women from all over the world joined Nadia, Stephanie and myself for 5 days of hard work and fun. You can see the full post here and thank you Stephanie and Nadia for everything.
Autumn began with the most memorable trip to Alaska. The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute took us fishing and hiking and we ate some amazing local fare. I have so many images to go through… stay tuned. I will share in the upcoming weeks.
In October, I taught another food styling and photography workshop at Sunday Suppers – the most beautiful space. Can you believe it was my third time there? I was happy to be able to join Karen once again in her studio. I also hosted a cooking class and supper with recipes from my book, which was very well received. Thank you Karen for all your hard work and sharing your gorgeous space with me.
And then came one of the most significant moments of the year – the launch of Small Plates and Sweet Treats. Two years in the making and very emotional time for me.
It really was a dream come true to be able to host the launch party on the top floor of the Martha Stewart building surrounded by people I admire and people who have supported my work along the way. We celebrated the October issue of Whole Living magazine where we were featured as well as my book. One of the most exciting parts of the evening was when I got to meet Pierre Schaedelin. He was Martha’s personal chef at one point and I remember how much I loved his cooking segments in the old shows. On top of it all, Pierre himself cooked recipes from my book to serve to the guests that evening. It really was an honor for me.
The book tour continued with events in New York City, Anthropologie in Florida, a cooking segment on New Day NW in Seattle, and more book signings in Florida, Seattle and Boston. Thank you to everyone at Little, Brown and my agent Judy Linden for all their hard work.
Sara Moulton also picked it as one of the best cookbooks of the year on Good Morning America.
I am completely humbled and thankful.
It has been a very full year. Busy, fruitful, creative, demanding, and filled with much generosity. Thank you to all of you who have continued to support my work.
And so I leave you with this recipe for chocolate, chestnut and amaretti cake, which I am enjoying at the moment with a cup of chamomile.
Here is to a peaceful and healthy 2013!
Chocolate, chestnut and amaretti cake
makes an 8-inch cake
4 ounces (110 g) 70% chocolate, finely chopped
2 ounces (55 g) milk chocolate, finely chopped
8 tablespoons (110 g) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus more for greasing pan
1/3 cup (75 g) chestnut puree
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup (100 g) natural cane sugar
1/2 cup (50 g) chestnut flour
1/2 cup (60 g) millet flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 amaretti cookies, crushed
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan with a piece of parchment paper and grease the sides with a bit of butter.
Combine the first five ingredients together in a medium heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water. The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir until all ingredients melt together. Remove the bowl from the pot. Remove the vanilla bean and set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk together the yolks and half of the natural cane sugar. (Do not let the sugar sit on top of the yolks without stirring or the yolks will begin to “burn”). Add the cooled chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. Fold in the chestnut flour, millet flour and salt.It will be a thick mixture.
In a medium bowl, whip together the egg whites until light and ribbons begin to form. Slowly add the remaining sugar while continue to whip. Whip until peaks start to form. Fold in a third of the whipped whites into the chocolate mixture. Mix briskly if needed until the whites lighten the base. Now add another third of the whipped whites but this time, fold gently not to deflate too much. Add the rest of the whites and fold until there are no more streaks of meringue. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Top with crushed amaretti.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The center will be slightly moist still, brownie-like. let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack. Store in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic. It will become moister as it sits.